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Albany County Legislature prepares for economic impact from COVID-19

Approves items to expand response

Post Date:05/12/2020 6:34 pm

ALBANY – To mitigate the potential economic impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Albany County Legislature is considering whether to restore a special committee that would review the hiring of future employees.

The Albany County Legislature introduced a resolution Monday to amend resolution 283 of 1992 to restore the Committee to Fill Vacancies in response to the COVID-19 related health emergency and uncertainty in the budgetary realities caused by the pandemic.

“The Committee to Fill Vacancies has been used in the past during times of economic distress in the County, most recently after the 2008 recession,” Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce said. “With all the economic uncertainty due to the pandemic, we are going to have to make some hard decisions regarding our budget. Rather, than imposing a hiring freeze, we feel this is a more suitable alternative. It’s important that the County has the ability to fill vacant positions as they arise, but we need to ensure that those hiring decisions are being made responsibly.”

The Committee would include a representative from the County Executive’s Office, County Comptroller’s Office and Office of Employee Relations as voting members, in addition to, the Chair of the Legislature and the Chairs of the Personnel and Audit and Finance committees of the Legislature as non-voting members.

The resolution will be discussed later this month in the Personnel and Audit and Finance committees.

In addition, the Legislature approved several resolutions Monday to help essential County Departments respond to the COVID-19 crisis, including a budget amendment for the Albany County Health Department, which received $318,777 in emergency funding. Approximately $30,000 is from an existing Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant and an additional $288,777 is being provided through new grant funding to help control the spread of the virus.

The money can be used to offset costs associated with, but not limited to, hiring additional staff in the Health Department, paying overtime, providing necessary lodging for affected individuals, creating monitoring kits for quarantined individuals, as well as compiling COVID-19 data to comply with CDC guidelines.

Another resolution approved allows the Sheriff’s Office to apply for the 2020 Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program Grant through the U.S. Department of Justice, for approximately $58,000. The funding, if awarded, would be used to prevent, prepare for and respond to the virus.

To ensure the safety of the public as well as the Legislature, the Legislature’s meeting was held via teleconference in compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders. The meeting was streamed live on the Legislature’s YouTube channel for the public and was recorded for future viewing.

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